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Friday, June 21, 2024

To confront climate change, UF researcher develops heat-tolerant corn

UF researchers won a national award for engineered heat-tolerant corn.

Curt Hannah, a molecular geneticist at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said  the corn was developed using biochemical methods.

He said corn is sensitive to high temperatures and to enhance the plant, they identified the types of corn that are most sensitive to heat.

He said the crops were then engineered to make their products more heat stable. Engineered versions of the genes were introduced to the corn plant to make it more heat tolerant, he said, which means it won’t die as rapidly.

“The techniques we use are identical to those used to produce (genetically modified organism) foods,” he said.

Increases in temperature caused by man-made climate change is why corn needs to be heat tolerant, Hannah said.

He said the engineered genes they synthesized will be used for improved corn productivity globally, but it is not available commercially yet.

The award for the crop innovation, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture 2017 Partnership Award in Multistate Efforts, was awarded in October, which includes a plaque for the team.

“The purpose of the research was to enhance corn yields worldwide,” he said. “UF and the Gainesville community will benefit from the research being done here.”

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